Art 301: Music in the Western Tradition I

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Art 301 Reading Packet Cover

Art 301: Music in the Western Tradition I is the first part of the Fine Arts curriculum that students encounter at Wyoming Catholic College and is an introduction to music theory, meaning, and history.


Students commence the study of music with aural immersion in some of the great and representative examples of western art music, beginning with compositions more accessible to the untrained ear. Accompanying these listening practica are readings and discussions on the “musical nature” of man, and on the kinds of music and their respective roles in human development. This experiential approach, which is continued through practical vocal exercises, prepares students for systematic study of the elements of music theory, including rhythm, pitch and melody, intervals and harmony, modes and keys. Next, beginning with the medieval reception of Ancient Greek musical thought, we explore the relationship between music, mathematics, nature and the human soul, and chart the history of music from Gregorian Chant up to the Baroque period, through case studies of works by composers including Pérotin, Byrd, Monteverdi, Handel and Bach. Students learn to interpret music in relation to its cultural context and develop understanding of the creative process through introduction to the techniques of counterpoint and harmonic practice. Observations touching the aesthetics, spirituality, and moral dimensions of music are also made, foreshadowing a central concern of the second semester.

Works Used

  • Art 301 Reading Packet
  • Boethius, Fundamentals of Music
  • Zuckerkandl, “The Two Concepts of Musicality”
  • Kalkavage, Elements of Music
  • Tolkien, “Ainulindale” from The Silmarillion
  • Lewis, “The Founding of Narnia” from The Magician’s Nephew
  • Bach, St. Matthew Passion
  • Pelikan, “The Beauty of Holiness”
  • Pieper, “Thoughts about Music,” “Music and Silence”
  • Selected works of great music

Typically Taught By